Looking for weight loss and overall health in the digital age is in many ways a mixed blessing. Technology on one hand is a threshold to endless potential weight loss diets, nutrtion facts, health and fitness approaches.
But, on the flip side it is difficult to choose which diet to follow. Plus, what activity supercharges your health and fitness.
Pick the right food, right diet to improve your overall health that hits the right note of your health needs.
Myth#1: Gluten Free Diet is More Healthier
What is it: Diet that excludes gluten content in food. Gluten is a wheat protein.
What it is not: Gluten-Free Diet is Guilt-Free Diet
Fact: Replace gluten-free diet to Low-Gluten Diet with High Fiber as better alternative.
A Gluten-free diet is beneficial for people suffering from Celiac Disease (an autoimmune allergic response to the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and wheat products).
A recent study suggested a low-gluten diet with high fiber has a beneficial health effect on our microbiome (gut bacteria composition in the intestine) that improves healthy gut bacteria. These changes in intestinal function alleviate bloating.
Research suggests that there is proven ways to modest weight loss with both low-gluten, high fiber diet over a high-gluten diet.
Studies have previously shown improvement in the condition of irritable bowel syndrome (IBD) and other gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, constipation, stomach cramps). These are the gastrointestinal disorders that prevail in about 20% of the Western population.
A long-term study is needed to establish the beneficial effects of a low-gluten diet in healthy individuals. Although, intake of the low-gluten diet is prevalent in the general healthy population to aid in weight loss and lessen intestinal discomfort caused due to gluten insensitivity.
Mostly a gluten-free diet available in the market is deprived of fiber and nutritional content. Nutritional composition of Gluten-free diet can be enhanced when it is- high fiber enriched and minimally processed for those who prefer a low-gluten diet.
- Improves healthy gut bacteria
- Combat excess weight and intestinal discomfort
- Less bloating was observed in some healthy individual and along with IBS.
Tip: Replace fiber from wheat and rye with fiber from vegetables, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and corn.
My Advice: Check for gluten-free ingredients carefully
Myth#2: It is healthy to lose weight with the Low Carbohydrate Diet
What it is: A quick-fix for weight loss
What it’s not: A long-term weight loss approach
Fact: Some carbs are good for your health and some aren’t.
Sugar is a bad carbohydrate and fiber is a good carbohydrate present in whole grains and oats says Professor Jim, University of Otago. Therefore by cutting carbohydrate from your diet, you are also cutting down fiber that affects your health in the long-term.
High carbohydrate diet is good unless it is high in fiber as it has protective effects on heart and gut.
As WHO explains, a diet high in fiber (whole grain pasta), nuts and pulses will cut down chances of heart disease and aids healthy weight loss.
Tip- On dividing number of carbohydrate per serving by number of grams of fiber can give you an insight of good carbohydrate foods.
Cut on added sugars, processed foods, and carbonated drinks. Add minimally processed foods in your diet. Try quiona, amaranth, farro, millet in addition to brown rice and whole wheat products.
Myth#3: Cut Fat for Weight Loss
What it is: Diet devoid of Essential Fats
What it is not: Healthy approach to Eating
Fact: As per various studies it has been proved that fat isn’t always the culprit when it comes to extra inches around your waistline.
It’s good to stay away from fried and processed foods as they are high in trans fat. Trans fat is found in foods cooked in partially hydrogenated oil (a type of bad fat). Such a diet increases the risk factor of developing cardiac disease by 12% according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
But, before jumping on any conclusion take note of all those good fats that improve health and aids in weight loss.
Add healthy nuts and seeds rich in good fats (MUFA and PUFA) in your diet to improve heart health, lower inflammation, maintain healthy skin and hair.
Good fats include: Healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA) also helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and improve good HDL cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fats include vegetable oils, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts and seeds. Monounsaturated fats include avocado, plant origin oils like canola oil, olive oil.
Tip: Keep healthy nuts and seeds in your kitchen and bag as snacks.
Related: Quick Guide to Healthy Fats- In a Nutshell
Myth#4: Juices aids in Weight Loss
Fact: Juicing is not the right way to lose weight for long-term says Amy Gorin, MS, and RDN. Relying on juices depletes you from protein and healthy fats required by your body for proper functioning.
Even 100% fruit juice adds more calories to your meal along with other sweet-sweetened beverages. A 2011 Harvard study explains, sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to long-term weight gain therefore stick to not more than one small glass of juice a day.
Juices fill you with the only carbohydrate that gets easily digested, makes you feel hungry again. Whereas, protein and healthy fats keep you full for a longer duration and delays hunger.
People include sugar-sweetened drinks in their diet. According to a study consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is about 63% in children and 49% in adults. This forms the major source of added sugar that provides calories without nutrients.
Home-made smoothies without sugar, plain green tea, infused water are a better alternative to provide ample an amount of nutrients.
It is recommended to eat a well-balanced diet that comprises of- fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats along with non-sweetened beverages.
Good Protein like salmon and chickpeas are great picks. Also avoid foods that add empty calories and no nutrition such as alcohol, fizzy drinks etc.
Eat food as a whole rather in liquid form as it leaves you much fuller. Simple fruit juices are loaded with sugars and are high on calories. One bottle of cola has 200 calories, and one cup of apple juice is around 115 calories. One can of beer have 154 calories with no significant nutrition content.
Artificially flavored water, diet colas, and diet soda are not what they are meant to be. These drinks make you feel full as they lack nutrients and unable to turn off satiety hormones.
Myth#5: Dieting is a good way to Lose Weight
What it is: Modest to severe food restriction
What it is not: Magic pill to lose weight
Fact: Focus on what works- A healthy eating behavior to maintain a healthy weight.
Why dieting doesn’t work? It is an outdated and ineffective approach to weight loss. If you want to be healthy, you need to get of this relic and find a new approach. Dieting posses little significance today as calorie restriction leads to undernourishment and calorie-dense but nutreints deprived foods leads to malnourishment.
Don’t neglect colors in your diet: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients to provide you with vitamin A, B, K and minerals such as fiber, iron, carotenoids, and anti-oxidants, says clinical dietician Beth Morris.
Time is the key: It’s good to change your eating pattern rather foods. A study says to eat within a 12-hour window to let your body perform repair and regenerate activities at night. This process works within the biological clock of 24 hours on daily basis.
For example, if you eat breakfast at 8 am in the morning then eat your dinner till 8 pm in night. This helps your body overcome inflammation and disease.
My advice: Cook your meal more often at home. This will help you develop a healthy relationship with your food. You’ll enjoy the taste, flavors, aroma of your meal more rather counting each calorie.
Myth#6: All Sugars are bad
Fact: Go for natural sugars over artificial sugars. Natural sugars are already present in whole foods such as milk (Lactose), plain yogurt (Lactose), and fruits (Fructose).
Natural sugars are a better alternative over added sugars as they are packed with health-promoting nutrients such as calcium, iodine, magnesium, potassium, and fiber along with natural sugars.
Added sugars sabotage your metabolism leading to heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, weight gain and other inflammatory diseases. You will be surprised to know that, even if you don’t eat sweetened foods like dessert and cookies your foods have hidden sugar in it.
Added sugars are present in your diet ranges from high fructose syrup, maple syrup to honey, and glucose. Around 70% of processed and packaged foods (breakfast cereals, soups, flavored yogurt) have added sugar in it.
As per the CDC report, 14% of total calories comprised of added sugars in the Western diet. Consumption of added sugars should be less than 10% of 2000 calories/day (<200 calories).
According to American Medical Association, for a woman 6 teaspoon (25g) and for men 9 (36g) teaspoon of sugar is enough to add sweetness in your diet.
Try to add fruits in your breakfast for sweetness. Buy plain oats over flavored oats available in the market loaded with added sugar and excess sodium.
Also, enhance your meal with the addition of plain yogurt not flavored yogurt. Then you can enjoy more natural sugars. Reconsider your diet and lifestyle.
Related: Nutrition Facts Label about Added Sugars
Myth#7: Drink 8-ounce glasses of water daily to stay hydrated
Fact: Our body comprises of 60% of water. You can’t store water rather you need to continually replenish your body with water throughout the day.
Drinking those bland and boring 8-10 glasses of water is now revamped to flavor-infused water along with herbal tea and green tea.
Along with a glass of water, beverages (tea, coffee) you can add foods rich in water. As water-rich foods (pineapple, strawberry, celery, watermelon, oranges, and spinach) not only keep you hydrated but are packed with vitamins and minerals, anti-oxidants add up to your weight loss.
During summer gorging on smoothies that has a blend of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats is the morning go-getter.
Myth#8: Organic foods are better than Conventional foods
Fact: Despite the high prices of organic foods, its consumption is on perk over the last few years. Organic as the name suggests organic means more natural, ethical, and healthier without artificial GMO seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers.
Unlike conventional processing of foods organic farming involves traditional ways and uses organic compost.
We tend to buy organic foods as they are touted to be high on anti-oxidants, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acid. There is mixed evidence about it. Hence, there’s not a much significant difference in its nutritional value compared to conventional foods.
Organic cultivation has less use of pesticides such as sulphur, natural vegetable oils, and copper sulphate.
Toxic content in any food depends on concentration and vulnerability of toxins not on how natural that food is grown.
It is healthy to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables judiciously with little significance on how it is produced.
In respect to the environment, conventional foods are better than organic foods. A study showed that organic farming requires more land to produce and emits more greenhouse gas compared to the same crop grown from conventional methods.
A healthy eating approach boils down to two factors viz. expectation and personal choice.
Research says to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet to attain health benefits of fiber found in them. Buy locally grown foods instead that is in season to avail every nutrient.
The organic tag is not a guarantee for your food security. Moreover, the difference in taste and quality of organic and conventional foods are minimal if any at all.
Tip: In practice, rinse the food thoroughly before consumption to remove bacteria, pesticides from outside.
Myth#9: Multivitamins protect you from Diseases
Fact: Multivitamin intake should never interfere with nutritious, varied and regular diet. Consumption of multivitamins daily for disease prevention is a two edged sword.
As per Harvard led Physician Health study for a period of ten years in 1000 men showed that multivitamins lowered the risk of developing a /diagnosis of cancer by 8% but not death.
In another Harvard led PHC study no beneficial effect of multivitamin supplements were observed in the prevention of heart disease and related symptoms such as heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease.
The physicians in the study had a more nutritious diet, more physically active and were involved in less unhealthy routines compared to the general population.
More than spending time and money on supplements focus on getting essential nutrients from healthy foods that are seasonal, locally grown and home-cooked.
According to American Medical Association (AMA) and American Cancer Society (ACS), a healthy diet is superior to taking a multivitamin, when you already on a healthy diet you are less likely to benefit from extra multivitamin pills, says Dr. Kormos.
Overall Optimal health is not based on a single nutrient now rather a synergy of varied nutrients from the food we eat render potential health benefits.
Choosing nutrient-dense foods such as plain yogurt, whole grains, salmon, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and lentils helps you meet nutrient and vitamin needs.
But, people who eat a vegan and a vegetarian diet, vitamin D recommended intake cannot be met through foods.
Vitamin D supplements (600-800 IU) are a good idea as sources of vitamin D are of animal origin (such as tuna, fatty fish, salmon, cod liver oil, and mackerel).
Hint: You can also add Vitamin D fortified foods in your diets such as orange juice, soy milk, some dairy products, and cereals.
The decision to include supplements in your diet is personalized based on your diet and your risks. Review the recommendation of supplements with your doctor to make the important health choice, says Dr. LeBoff.
We naturally focus on what to eat at the end of the day, on weekends or at any function that you are about to attend. Rather focus on what you will eat now. Plan your day around an hour interval will simplify your eating behavior.
Do not wait until your body tells you to stop eating if you happen to wait it’s too late- you have already skipped the window of healthy eating for 12-hours. Remember, it is more important to add whole foods that slow the digestion of glucose and turn off hunger hormones.